BEIRUT/TYRE/SIDON: One of the country’s largest-ever national beach cleanup campaigns took place Sunday morning in multiple locations across Lebanon, with both state officials and local volunteers participating.
The Environment Ministry launched the nationwide “Save Our Face” campaign last week, saying the initiative would aim “to save the face, and convey a cleaner image, of Lebanon.”
A source from the ministry told The Daily that the campaign covered more than 120 locations, and that 7,000 volunteers participated.
Lebanon is a large contributor to plastic waste in the Mediterranean, which is estimated to have 1,000 to 3,000 tons of plastic floating on its surface, according to a 2015 study by students at the University of Cadiz, who sampled 28 sites around the sea. However, because of a dearth of local research, no nationwide figures exist for Lebanon’s contribution to this pollution.
Among the locations included in the cleanup was the Tyre beach, where Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati, local MP Inaya Ezzedine and members from both the Lebanese Army and the Italian contingent to UNIFIL joined students to pick up trash.
Tyre Mayor Hassan Dabouq told reporters during the cleanup that the municipality “was continuing to give Tyre’s beach priority,” given its geographic and touristic value.
The initiative wasn’t without challenges. Some participants found themselves lifting large tires off shores littered with glass and nylon bags.
In Sidon, more than 450 volunteers and activists assisted the Army and Red Cross members in the work from Sunday’s early morning hours.
“This is a wedding for us,” Jreissati said, speaking with reporters at the Sidon shore. “We wanted to send a unified message to the Lebanese people, telling them that as one heart we can do something good for our country.”
“Everything good that we do to our country lifts our spirit and that of the expats,” Jreissati added.
Farther north, Tripoli’s beach and the islands off the coast experienced their own fair share of cleaning, with some 80 volunteers participating, according to the state-run National News Agency. The beach from Akkar’s Abdeh to Arida was cleaned as well.
The cleanup campaign will be followed up with the continuation of a survey of the Lebanese coast to determine which stretches of beach are polluted and which aren’t. The results are expected to be announced June 15.